John Bolton‘s tell-all book about the Donald Trump presidency has resurfaced longstanding allegations that Trump offered to go easy on foreign companies accused of malfeasance in exchange for political favors.
Here’s a recap of the companies and their lobbyists.
1. Huawei (China)
Firm: Huawei is China’s largest telecommunications company and a world leader in 5G technology.
Allegation: In January 2019, the US government announced criminal charges against Huawei for allegedly stealing a rival’s secrets and evading sanctions on Iran. In a book excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, Bolton accuses Trump of offering to reverse the charges if China would help in the trade deal that he saw as beneficial to his re-election.
US lobbying operations: Huawei Technologies USA has been registered to lobby since March 2012. Since then it has spent a combined $6.2 million. In addition the firm retained several external lobbying firms during the period in question:
- APCO Worldwide (April 2010 – March 2019);
- BCW (Feb. 2019 – March 2019);
- Canyon Snow Consulting (since April 2012);
- Federal Associates (since Aug. 2019);
- Jones Day (since March 2019);
- Pivot Integrated Communications (since Sept. 2019);
- Racepoint Global (since Sept, 2018);
- Sidley Austin (since July 2019);
- Squire Patton Boggs (since Aug. 2019);
- Steptoe & Johnson (since March 2019).
2. Halkbank (Turkey)
Firm: Halkbank is Turkey’s second-largest state-owned bank.
Allegation: In October 2019, federal prosecutors brought a criminal case against Halkbank on charges it schemed to evade sanctions against Iran following a years-long judicial saga. Bolton accuses Trump of asking Attorney General Bill Barr to pressure the US attorneys handling the case to make a deal so he could curry favor with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
US lobbying operations: Ballard Partners, the firm started by former Trump Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard, lobbied for Halkbank from August 2017 to October 2019. McGinn and Company has been lobbying for the bank since December 2018. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani played a key role in trying to broker a deal between Turkey and the US government to try to resolve the charges but never registered as a lobbyist.
3. ZTE (China)
Firm: ZTE is a major Chinese telecommunications manufacturer based in Shenzhen.
Allegation: After a US investigation found that ZTE had broken US law by exporting US technical equipment to North Korea and Iran, the Commerce Department issued a denial order in April 2018 blocking US tech company from supplying components for seven years — something the Washington Post called a “corporate death sentence.” A month later, Trump traded the legal penalty into a $1 billion fine. Bolton’s book alleges he did so to curry favor with Chinese President Xi Jinping for his re-election bid.
US lobbying operations: ZTE USA has been registered to lobby since 2011. Since then it has spent almost $6.4 million — including an astonishing $1.37 million during the second quarter of 2018, lobbying filings show. In addition the firm retained a bevy of external lobbying firms during the period in question:
- Akin Gump (since January 2020);
- Akin Gump subcontractor American Continental Group (from Nov. 2018 to June 2019);
- APPO-G/Jon Christensen (since 2009);
- Hogan Lovells (June 2018 – March 2020);
- Hogan Lovells subcontractor Black Diamond Strategies (Dec. 2018- Feb. 2020);
- Kasowitz Benson Torres (since Dec. 2018);
- Mercury Public Affairs (May 2018 – Aug. 2018).